Page last updated at 05:13 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

Pakistan survivors wait for aid

Survivors of the quake in Balochistan staying out in the open
International agencies have promised aid for the survivors

Thousands of villagers who survived the earthquake that hit south-western Pakistan have spent a night in the open in freezing cold waiting for relief.

Over 200 people are now known to have died in the earthquake, which hit Balochistan province on Wednesday.

Aid is being brought in for the homeless survivors, although aftershocks and blocked roads have hampered the operation.

Rescue workers say there is little hope of finding survivors in the debris.

The earthquake of 6.4 magnitude destroyed the mud and timber houses, triggered landslides and buried people as they slept in the scenic but poor province.

Rescue workers said the search for survivors was nearing its end.

'Life is worthless'

"Almost all the rubble had been cleared by last night," Balochistan interior secretary Shaukat Ali told the Associated Press news agency.

"We don't know if anyone is still buried in the debris."

The worst-hit area appeared to be Ziarat, about 50km north of Quetta, where hundreds of mostly mud and timber houses have been destroyed in five villages.

Many survivors, who spent the night in the open warming themselves by lighting fires, said they were still waiting for aid.

"It was so cold at night we thought we would freeze," Qadir, a survivor, told the AFP news agency in Kawaz, a village near the town of Ziarat.

"We have been waiting for help but we have no tent, no food, no medicine for my children."

Abdul Nadir Khan, 40, a driver, said it would be difficult to stay out nights in the cold.

Villagers digging through rubble

"We have no belongings to survive. We are short of blankets with no shelter to pass these cold nights," he said.

Other survivors like Irshad Ahmed, a government official, said people were sleeping in the open because they feared another earthquake in the area.

"I have got my family in this open playground to sleep because you never know when the earthquake could return," he said.

Relief material is being transported by road and flown in by helicopter to the remote mountainous region at the centre of the quake.

They include tents, blankets and clothes, all essential with winter's freezing nights approaching.

Many of the villagers have dug mass graves and buried their dead in the affected villages.

Haji Shahbaz, a man from Wam village, said he had lost 17 relatives in the quake.

"Nothing is left here, and now life is worthless for me," he said.

International and Pakistani agencies say they are trying to get relief material to the survivors.

Neighbouring India and the US have also offered help.

The tremor struck 70km (45 miles) north of Quetta at 0409 (2309GMT Tuesday) at a depth of 10km (6.2 miles), the US Geological Survey said.

In 1935, Quetta suffered almost complete destruction in an earthquake which claimed the lives of about 30,000 people.

More than 73,000 people were killed in an earthquake in north-west Pakistan in October 2005 and almost an equal number were seriously injured.

Map of earthquake area

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